Grover with Chad KirkpatrickOn February 4, 2010, Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist spoke to hundreds attending Politics on the Rocks. POTR favorites and Congressional candidates David Schweikert and Vernon Parker also spoke.
Chad Kirkpatrick, State CIO and Director of the Government Information Technology Agency for Arizona, held a private Q&A with Grover before the event. Grover began by explaining that while ATR's No Taxes Pledge is necessary, it is not meant to be sufficient on its own. It must be coupled with spending cuts. Senators Kent Conrad and Judd Gregg have been touting a spending restraint bill that would cut spending AND increase taxes, so ATR has been campaigning against it. There are other bills in Congress right now including one by Senator Sam Brownback that would contain only spending.
Chad noted that the Office of Management and Budget is projecting a european-style economy for years to come: around 1.5% growth and 9% unemployment. What will it take to get the U.S. back on track? Grover recommended a book called The Forgotten Man by Amity Shales, which analyzed the Great Depression. The depression really last about 15 years since the stock market didn't recover until 1955. The government didn't actually create new jobs or wealth; unemployment decreased because men were drafted for the war. Similarly, the Obama administration is trying to make government the dominant player in town. According to Grover, Obama thinks that losing private sector jobs while creating more government jobs is a good thing. Liberals like crises, because it gets people to say, "I don't know what's going on" and they turn to the government for help. Grover said the one thing the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress can't be forgiven for is agreeing to increasing spending for stimulus funding and other spending increases in recent years. "The Democrats begged us to come in and put our fingerprints on the murder weapon." That should have been a sign. If you have a good idea, you don't beg your opponents to share it. When Republicans come up with good ideas like tax cuts, we generally don't have to beg the Democrats to sign on.
Grover discussed the tea party movement, and quelled any fears that it was just a passing phase by pointing to the recent massive efforts in Massachusetts rallying against the healthcare bill and supporting Scott Brown. Although the tea partiers are a "Johnny come lately" to political activism; people who haven't been paying attention until now, the modern GOP has benefited from waves of people coming through on the right. Just like the Christian Coalition swept the GOP in the 1980's, the tea partiers are having their heyday now. Successful movements have lots of new blood. All three indicators are showing that conservatives are surging: 1) more activism, 2) polling data, and 3) voting. The Democrats may have control of D.C., but we have the countryside. Newt Gingrich believes it will take four election cycles to turn the country around. The strategy on the right today is different. The difference between our attacks on Obama versus our attacks on Clinton are that we attacking Obama's policies. In the past, we went after Clinton the person.
Next, Grover discussed Gingrich's proposed new Contract With America. It will contain a section on parental rights and a 5-day waiting period requiring legislation to be posted online before it can be passed. It will apply all the way down to the local levels of government, like school boards, so this Contract With America will be even more broadly effective than the first one.
Grover stated that lobbying doesn't matter, elections do. There is no such thing as lobbying a member of Congress and getting them to change their mind. Democrat blue dog Senator Ben Nelson was always going to vote for the healthcare bill, he just needed an excuse. Unfortunately for him, he picked a bad reason, exempting his state of Nebraska from paying any future Medicaid payments. Nelson thought the people of Nebraska would react as if they were from Chicago, where the "Cornhusker kickback" is a common practice. But Nebraskans revolted at the blatant bribe. The only power lobbyists hold is threatening to defeat a Congressman in the next election.
Grover shared his thoughts on the Supreme Court's recent Citizens' United decision striking down McCain-Feingold campaign finance restrictions on corporate and union independent expenditures. "The Supreme Court decided the First Amendment says what it says. It has legalized what the unions have been doing all along." He doesn't think Fortune 500 countries will become actively involved, instead they will continue to give to non profit 501(c)(4)s. Smaller businesses will probably start getting involved in local races however.
Grover had a few choice lines when referring to the left. "The left is made up of competing parasites. But the good news is if we don't allow them to grow on the taxpayers, they will cheerfully eat the person next to them." The one good thing that the right and organizations like ATR have been able to do since Reagan is provide more assurance that if you elect a Republican, they won't raise your taxes. So when a stray Republican comes along who defies that, it ruins the brand. It is like drinking a bottle of coke and finding a dead rat in it. "Republican officials who vote for tax increases are ratheads." It damages the brand for everyone else and confuses small children about the nature of the world.
Grover with Politics on the Rocks president and founder Charles Jensen and Amy Auerbach